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The Diamond Sutra in Chinese Culture examines the impact of this very important religious text upon Chinese religion, culture, art, literature, folklore, and technology. Based largely on those artifacts found in the Dunhuang collections, which comprise the oldest Buddhist manuscripts in the world, The Diamond Sutra in Chinese Culture offers insightful new research and a compelling perspective on the influence of this very important text.
In Diamond Sutra Narratives, Chiew Hui Ho explores Diamond Sutra devotion and its impact on medieval Chinese religiosity, uncovering the complex social history of Tang lay Buddhism through the laity’s production of parasutraic narratives and texts.
The Diamond Sutra is an important Mahāyāna sutra, which remains to this day one of the most influential Buddhist sutras in East Asia. Little is known about why it began to gain widespread popularity in the Tang even though it had been translated two centuries earlier. Extant records, however, indicate that a substantial body of narratives relating to it appeared, circulated, and were compiled in the Tang, reflecting the extent to which it featured in the lives of people in that period. This study of Diamond Sutra tales aims to shed light on the cult of the Diamond Sutra and the state of Buddhism in medieval China. By broadly contextualizing the sutra and its narratives within their socio-historical milieu, it discusses the ways it was engaged by monastics, how it was given recognition by members of the Tang monarchy, and how the interest of literati might have popularized it. I argue that these developments, when conceived within a web of human interactions, impacted people's knowledge of the sutra and prompted their increasing engagement with it, resulting in the multiplication of religious experiences related to it and the proliferation of Diamond Sutra narratives as people shared their experiences. The compilation of these accounts throughout the Tang attests to the strong presence of the Diamond Sutra cult. It not only indicates the allure of storytelling as a medium of communication, but also underscores the role played by social relations and interactions in religious culture. This study thus focuses on how people and communities might have conceived of the sutra and devoted themselves to it, and the effects of the cult on medieval Chinese religiosity. Diamond Sutra tales reveal how the experiences recounted therein were conceived as proofs of the efficacy of the sutra, bearing a particular significance to the protagonists and answering the concerns of medieval Chinese, as illustrated by the major themes, motifs, and ideas of the tales. Geared toward propagating the sutra, the tales determined attitudes, beliefs, and Buddhist practices of medieval Chinese by framing their conception of and engagement with the Diamond Sutra, and thus shaped Chinese religiosity. As they bear witness to the cult of the Diamond Sutra, these narratives also constitute part of a history of the religious life of people, and of Buddhism on the ground in Tang China. Additionally, these tales indicate the transition that took place in the religious landscape between Six Dynasties and the Tang, especially how Buddhism evolved and became part of the social fabric of China. Unlike the apologetic concerns of earlier tales, these narratives reflect a period in which Buddhism had permeated medieval Chinese society, and portray lay devotees of the Diamond Sutra as empowered practitioners who experienced the efficacy of the sutra and gained access to wonders and powers traditionally associated with the monastic. This lay confidence is discernible from the writings of the tale compilers, who assumed responsibility for propagating Buddhism and articulated their understanding of the religion as they created the lore of the sutra. The empowerment of the laity is further illustrated by the autonomy with which lay Buddhists modified, produced and distributed religious texts of the Diamond Sutra, which even prompted the monastic establishment to accommodate itself to the changes they brought about.
The Buddhist text known as the Diamond Sutra is believed to be the oldest surviving printed book in the world. Made in 868 AD and written in Chinese, the text contains a significant dialogue on perception, and is one of the most important sacred works of the Buddhist faith. The Diamond Sutra was hidden for centuries in a cave in northwest China, and it was created from seven strips of yellow-stained paper that were printed from carved wooden blocks and pasted together to form a scroll over five meters long. The oldest dated example of wood block printing—produced some six hundred years before Gutenberg’s movable type printing in Europe—it is clearly the product of a mature printing industry in China. This beautifully designed book, the first to focus solely on the Diamond Sutra, features a full-color reproduction of the work, along with an account of the discovery of the Sutra by Sir Aurel Stein in May 1907 in a hidden cave on the edge of the Gobi desert. The book extensively discusses the content of the Sutra and also describes the invention of paper in China and the origins of Far Eastern printing. It reveals how the Sutra was originally made and the conservation work that the British Library employs to preserve it. The Diamond Sutra is a stunning book for anyone curious about the earliest origins of printing and the sacred foundations of Buddhism.
A collection of ancient Chinese Cultural Relics from the period of the Three Kingdoms, Western and Eastern Jin Dynasties and Southern and Northern Dynasties, 220 to 589. It covers jade and bronze ware, gold and silver ware, porcelain, painting, calligraphy, stone carving, and handicrafts. The books covers jade and bronze ware, gold and silver ware, porcelain, painting, calligraphy, stone carving and handicrafts from the period of the Three Kingdoms, Western and Eastern Jin Dynasties and the Southern and Northern Dynasties, 220 to 589. Unified ancient China during the Qin and Han Dynasties ended with political division into the Three Kingdoms of the three states of Wei, Shu and Wu. Subsequent centuries witnessed frequent shifts in power, including the Western and Eastern Jin Dynasties of the Song, Qi, Liang and Chen, and Northern Dynasties of Northern Wi, Eastern Wi, Western Wei, Northern Qi and Northern Zhou. National reunification was finally achieved again in 589 when the Sui Dynasty overthrew the state of Chen. The break-up of the nation amid social unrest resulted in economic stagnation, greatly affecting the development of the jade manufacturing sector, having a direct contact with rituals and funerals. Changes in ideology and culture also led to people developing different ideas on the use of jades. Certainly, the development of Chinese jade reached its nadir during the period from the Wei and Jin to Southern and Northern Dynasties. The bronze ware that enjoyed a vogue from the Shang Dynasty also declined in popularity and usage. From the variety of art works to their style characteristics, hey basically continued the traditions of the Han Dynasty, but were rather poorly made compared with those produced during the Han period. National integration, however, led the people of various ethnic groups to learn from each other and helped form some common cultural characteristics. This can be found through the casting of bronze ware. Moreover, some bronze vessels also reflect the unique customs of certain ethnic groups to some extent. This book, the fourth in a ten-volume collection, brings to the English-speaking world a series of books from China which has been complied by an Expert Committee of the Chinese Society of Cultural Relics. There are 367 descriptions.
With the rise of China in the 21st century, this book offers a trans-cultural and thematic study of key Chinese concepts which influence modern day Chinese thinking across the spheres of politics, economics and society. It reflects on the major schools of Chinese thought including Confucianism, Daoism and Zen Buddhism, providing a historical perspective on the ideological development of China in terms of the relationship between man and nature, social ethics, political governance, poetry education, aesthetic criticism and art theory. It also explores primary aspects of Chinese poetics and aesthetics with reference to the interaction between the endogenous theories and their western counterparts. Written by a leader in Chinese Aesthetics against the background of both globalization and glocalization at home and abroad, this is a key read for all those interested in the cultural, philosophical and aesthetic underpinnings of contemporary China.
"Zen Buddhism is often said to be a practice of "mind-to-mind transmission" without reliance on texts - in fact, some great teachers forbid their students to read or write. But Buddhism has also inspired and accumulated some of the greatest philosophical texts of any religion. Two works lie at the center of Zen: The Heart Sutra, which monks recite all over the world, and The Diamond Sutra, which teaches the "perfection of wisdom" and cuts through all obstacles on the path of practice. It is perhaps the most studied of all the sutras, and by one count more than twenty thousand commentaries are noted." "Red Pine, as he begins his preface, explains: "The Diamond may look like a book, but it's really the body of the Buddha. It's also your body, my body, all possible bodies. But it's a body with nothing inside and nothing outside. It doesn't exist in space or time. Nor it is a construct of the mind. It's no mind. And yet because it's no mind, it has room for compassion. This book is the offering of no mind, born of compassion for all suffering beings. Of all the sutras that teach this teaching, this is the diamond. It cuts through all delusions, illuminates what is real, and cannot be destroyed. It is the path on which all buddhas stand and walk. And to read it is to stand and walk with buddhas."" "Red Pine, the translator and Buddhist scholar, has worked with this text for many years. He has consulted dozens of commentaries, in Chinese and in Sanskrit, to offer this brilliant new translation together with extensive commentary intended to present this sacred text in a new light. The result is a work of inspiration and guidance, a text of spiritual practice for all seekers."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The Diamond Sutra, composed in India in the fourth century CE, is one of the most treasured works of Buddhist literature and is the oldest existing printed book in the world. It is known as the Diamond Sutra because its teachings are said to be like diamonds that cut away all dualistic thought, releasing one from the attachment to objects and bringing one to the further shore of enlightenment. The format of this important sutra is presented as a conversation between the Buddha and one of his disciples. The Sutra of Hui-neng, also known as the Platform Sutra, contains the autobiography of a pivotal figure in Zen history and some of the most profound passages of Zen literature. Hui-neng (638–713) was the sixth patriarch of Zen in China, but is often regarded as the true father of the Zen tradition. He was a poor, illiterate woodcutter who is said to have attained enlightenment upon hearing a recitation of the Diamond Sutra. Together, these two scriptures present the central teaching of the Zen Buddhist tradition and are essential reading for all students of Buddhism.
The Lotus Sutra has been the most widely read and most revered Buddhist scripture in East Asia since its translation in the third century. The miracles and parables in the "king of sutras" inspired a variety of images in China, in particular the sweeping compositions known as transformation tableaux that developed between the seventh and ninth centuries. Surviving examples in murals painted on cave walls or carved in relief on Buddhist monuments depict celestial journeys, bodily metamorphoses, cycles of rebirth, and the achievement of nirvana. Yet the cosmos revealed in these tableaux is strikingly different from that found in the text of the sutra. Shaping the Lotus Sutra explores this visual world. Challenging long-held assumptions about Buddhist art, Eugene Wang treats it as a window to an animated and spirited world. Rather than focus on individual murals as isolated compositions, Wang views the entire body of pictures adorning a cave shrine or a pagoda as a visual mapping of an imaginary topography that encompasses different temporal and spatial domains. He demonstrates that the text of the Lotus Sutra does not fully explain the pictures and that a picture, or a series of them, constitutes its own "text." In exploring how religious pictures sublimate cultural aspirations, he shows that they can serve both political and religious agendas and that different social forces can co-exist within the same visual program. These pictures inspired meditative journeys through sophisticated formal devices such as mirroring, mapping, and spatial programming - analytical categories newly identified by Wang. The book examines murals in cave shrines at Binglingsi and Dunhuang in northwestern China and relief sculptures in the grottoes of Yungang in Shanxi, on stelae from Sichuan, and on the Dragon-and-Tiger pagoda in Shandong, among other sites. By tracing formal impulses in medieval Chinese picture-making, such as topographic mapping and pictorial illusionism, the author pieces together a wide range of visual evidence and textual sources to reconstruct the medieval Chinese cognitive style and mental world. The book is ultimately a history of the Chinese imagination. Read an interview with the author: http://dgeneratefilms.com/cinematalk/cinematalk-interview-with-professor-eugene-wang-on-chinese-art-and-film/
In this brilliant new translation and commentary on The Diamond Sutra--one of the sublime wisdom teachings of Mahayana Buddhism--Mu Soeng integrates this ancient wisdom teaching with current scientific and psychological thought. His clear and readable commentary traces the connections between these teachings and contemporary theories of quantum reality, explores the sutra within the framework of Buddhist meditation practices, and provides a comprehensive historical survey of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Mu Soeng's goal throughout is to reveal the inspiration and wisdom of The Diamond Sutra to today's reader in an accessible, engaging, and modern manner.